Spotlight on Jonathan Pollard by Caroline Glick

A Makor Rishon Special Feature in 3 parts: Makor Rishon Passover Edition - April 22, 2005

Translated to English by Justice4JP - May be reprinted with appropriate attribution.

Part I:
I Wanted to Prevent Another Holocaust: An Exclusive Interview with Jonathan Pollard

There are two approaches to Jonathan Pollard, one is a time line, the other is the broad approach. The time line begins with the dawn of American Jewish consciousness: a young boy stands with his class and recites one after the other, the words to "HaTikvah" Israel's national anthem, and the pledge of allegiance to the American flag, without ever realizing that a day may come that these two may come into conflict with each other.

The second approach, the broader view, takes place in the State of North Carolina. The day I visited Pollard there, a light rainfall had turned the lake next to the landing-strip into a muddy brown pool of swirling water. Aviv Ezra, the Israeli Deputy Consul General in Atlanta, met us at the airport. With his Sabra appearance, up to and including his suit, he looks like the face of our nation: young and proud and at the same time not overly self-possessed.

We meet up with Esther Pollard on the way to the prison, at the cheap, depressing motel where she lives. She is wearing a gray suit and her hair is covered with attractive reddish shaytl. She receives us with a mixture of wariness and hope. Her movements are energetic; the look in her eyes resembles that of a child who is lost; who sees strangers approaching, and wonders if they are coming to help or to hurt.

Esther shows us her tiny room, which smells of commercial cleansers. "I have been here for some time," she says, not without a trace of anger. The room is cramped. It has an air of sadness and isolation. Before we leave the place, she explains that Jonathan's health deteriorated severely after the cruel and inhumane treatment he was subjected to in Washington when he was held there prior to his court hearing. "Since then, I have not been able to leave him. So I remain here. It is difficult these days to cross international borders; I cannot risk leaving and not being able to return to be here for him."

Esther has been with Jonathan for 15 years; they married in 1993, when he had already served 8 years in prison. After spending a few minutes with Esther, I begin to understand that she too is in prison. There were some who cautioned me that she is not in touch with reality. Not so. Her main character trait is loyalty. Jonathan is her husband, and her life. I ask her quietly if she and Jonathan are permitted conjugal visits. Her laughter has a bitter edge and she responds, "You really do not understand the situation at all. You do not understand that behind the vision of America that you see, there is another America which is totally different. You have to be in a situation like ours, on the other side of the law, to see the other America. It is a vision of America where notions like fairness or compassion simply do not exist."

"The other side of the law", the words echo in my mind. In the mind of every American and especially of every American Jew, there is an ingrained belief that there is no contradiction between his ethnic or religious beliefs and his American identity. For American Jews it has been very hard to accept the fact that in a very clear and unequivocal way, the actions of Pollard forced them to question their American identity. No other spy did this. Not even Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. They spied for the Soviet Union, and their actions did not damage the collective dream of the Jewish community. Only Jonathan Pollard has done that.


"I understood that we are alone."

This is how Jonathan Pollard responds when I ask him what motivated him to make such a definitive choice between two loyalties. We had already entered the prison. FCI Butner is a medium to maximum security federal prison in North Carolina. Pollard has been incarcerated here for 12 years. Five people are present for the interview: Jonathan and Esther Pollard; the Deputy Consul General, Aviv Ezra; the publisher of Makor Rishon, Shlomo Ben-Tzvi and myself. Other than us, there is also Nick. Nick is a representative of US Naval Intelligence, who flies in from Washington every time Pollard has visitors to ensure that he does not transfer secrets out of the prison walls.

In the visit room there are small tables, upholstered chairs and vending machines for coffee and chocolate. Pollard receives us warmly as a host. His wife treats us to drinks and buys us chocolate, as if we were visiting in her home. I had also been warned about Jonathan; I had been told that he too is not entirely sane. But if he is crazy, there is no evidence of it. Throughout the visit I did not notice even the slightest sign of inappropriate or neurotic behavior. In fact this was the most surprising thing of all, Pollard's utter sanity after 20 years in prison.

We started from the beginning. Jonathan Pollard was born in Texas 50 years ago, and grew up in Indiana. His father was a professor of microbiology and worked, among other things, developing weapons for the American Army. Jonathan studied Political Science, Economics and Classical Studies at Stanford University. He was in the midst of studies towards a Doctorate in International Relations and Military History in 1979 when he was recruited by American Naval Intelligence. "It was a year full of events," he remembers with enthusiasm. "The Soviets invaded Afghanistan and Khomeini had toppled the Shah in Iran. There was lots of action."

And what was your Jewish and Zionist background?

Pollard readily begins to speak about his Jewish roots. "I grew up in an American, modern orthodox home, where the centrality of Israel was continuously stressed. I experienced two painful episodes during my childhood. The first was a visit to the concentration camp, Dachau, with my parents in 1966. The second was the Six Day War (in 1967) and a year after that the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. This chain of events led me to understand what is needed in order to win, and about the nature of the Diaspora."

And visits to Israel?

I first visited Israel in the summer of 1971. I was in the summer program at Machon Weizman. My parents were concerned that I would not return home. I wish I had remained there. I should have been in Israel for the war. For the Yom Kippur war, or for Operation Peace for Galilee, even if just to pick melons on a kibbutz to free up other Israelis for army duty. I regret that the critical events of our history in recent years have been so bloody. All the same, this is our history, and I should have been there."

Why didn't you make Aliyah?

"I thought about Aliyah all the time. But it is hard to get up and leave the Goldineh Medina, America. That was the conflict. I was here, but my heart was in the East. My parents are Americans. My father is a decorated officer in the army, who has received citations. He carries a copy of the American Constitution in his pocket. I did not know how to resolve the conflict. When I began to work for Naval Intelligence, my father warned me that it is no place for a Jew. That there is a lot of anti-Semitism there. But even after experiencing it, I thought it was better for me to remain.


Come, let's put that aside for a moment, and let's return to the present. Describe for us what a day in your life in prison looks like.

Pollard looks at me cautiously. Turning from a past he misses, to talk about a present he wishes to escape from, is hard for him. Esther, holding his hand, sighs in protest. Esther had warned me earlier that as long as Jonathan is in prison, he cannot safely discuss prison life or conditions.

"I don't want to go into detail," he responds. "I will give you an impressionistic description of my life. Life here involves constant noise, endless noise that is impossible to imagine, all the time; constant violence; profanity every conceivable type of profanity." His voice which a moment ago was strong and clear has become a quiet sigh. "There is no place to be quiet or to find quiet to read. You really have to be disciplined not to be provoked. You need to be disciplined to see when a situation is getting out of hand and to get away as quickly as possible. I have to be ready if my door opens at 2 in the morning.

"I live in a small room, not in a cell, with a roommate. My room is so small that when I sit on my bed and stretch out my arms I touch both of the walls. And it is impossible to lock the door. There are snap inspections and I constantly wash windows and floors for them."

Esther has told me that Jonathan gets up in the middle of the night to wash all of the prison windows so that he can be finished his work in time for visit hours. "I wash a lot of windows every day," he says.

When he is not washing windows, Pollard listens to the radio. He is prohibited from using computers, much less the internet. The prison has television sets set up in common rooms for inmates. His fellow inmates include murderers, rapists, armed robbers, pedophiles and other violent criminals.

All of his personal property has to fit into a small locker smaller than an IDF locker. He is not allowed to leave things out of his locker or to give them to his visitors, so he is forced to throw away most of his books and his letters after he has read them, just to make room.

He is not given kosher food, and has to make do. Fruit and vegetables are hard to come by. The prison commissary is limited and sells only dry goods. While Arabic speaking prisoners receive Arabic newspapers, he is forbidden from reading anything not written in English. He reads the newspaper Hamodia in English and a range of scientific journals and magazines.

"You have to understand," he says, "I knew that I needed to change my life. When I am released I cannot go back to work as I did in my previous life. I need to do something new. So I am now working on projects in alternate methods of energy generation and water production which will replace oil and current water reclamation technology."

Where were you on September 11?

"I was in the TV room. I was waiting for a special visit scheduled for that day. Mickey Eitan and another Knesset member were coming to meet Esther and me. I was in the TV room watching CNN. I knew at once, even before the second plane hit the tower, that this was a terror attack."

How did you feel knowing that the United States was under attack?

"I felt sick to my stomach."

But why would it bother you to see the US under attack? Especially after the last 20 years.

To this, Jonathan gave me a look of profound sadness and said, "I fell in love with two women Israel and the US. It doesn't work in private life, and it doesn't work in politics. My reaction to September 11 was as an American. As an American, I believe that this country is guarding the gates of Western civilization from the barbarians. I believe in a muscular foreign policy."


You are an American patriot, but you betrayed the US.

"I was forced to make a choice."

What happened? What forced you to choose?

"It was something that happened during the Operation Peace for Galilee campaign. I can't talk about it in detail." He nods at the monitor. He is able to say that he was the professional expert at special meetings between the US and Israel. "It was then that I discovered the amazing cynicism with which the US regards Israel. As part of my work, I met with some Israelis. I took a couple of them aside and I told them, 'We should be screaming to high Heaven about this!' One of them looked at me and asked, 'Who is 'we'?'

"I told him, 'You know what I mean!' He replied, 'No I don't know.' And that is when it happened. That is when I understood."

What did you understand?

"I understood that we are alone."

Why didn't you leave Naval Intelligence? Why didn't you leave your job and make Aliyah?

"I don't know why I stayed. I wanted to see how bad, bad really was. Like a car that slows down to watch a highway accident to see how bad the damage is. I couldn't leave."

After the Israeli Air Force blew up the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, then deputy director of the CIA Admiral Bobby Ray Inman unilaterally decided to stop all intelligence transfers to Israel on Arab and Muslim states not directly bordering Israel. This included Iraq, Iran, Libya, Tunis and Pakistan. Around the same time, the United States began to arm Iraq which was then at war with Iran. The government permitted various companies to built dual usage factories in Iraq and they quickly advanced the development of Iraqi chemical weapons. Pollard, a US Intelligence analyst, had access to this information, which - until it was embargoed by Inman, who was opposed to the US / Israel strategic alliance - was routinely shared with Israel.

So you saw this information and you thought it was not right that Israel was not receiving it but that's still a long ways from engaging in espionage.

"I saw before my eyes the danger that Israel was facing. I considered my options. I could go to the media; I could go to Congress; and I could go to the Jewish leaders in New York. The media was a non-starter because of its hostility to Israel. Moreover, if I would have told the media, then the Russians and the Syrians would also know. The Syrians would be able to take advantage of the information, and even to misunderstand it, which might draw them to open a new offensive on the Golan Heights. I could have gone to Capital Hill. Nothing would come of this approach, except that I would be fired. As for the Jewish leaders, they would just throw me out of their offices. A prominent Jewish leader came to visit me in prison some years ago. I asked him, "What would you have done, if I had come to you with this information?" He responded that he would immediately have called the FBI the minute I left his office, and reported me as an agent provocateur trying to entrap him."

So why didn't you resign?

"Because I wanted to prevent another Holocaust."

In the 20 years that have elapsed since he was arrested, Jonathan Pollard has expressed remorse for his deeds many, many times, both orally and in writing. In truth, the entire affair stemmed from administrative failure on both sides. The US preferred appeasement of the Arabs for which it is now paying the price, with 150 thousand US soldiers in Iraq - over its commitment to Israel. Israel, for its part, ran Pollard without any regard for the danger it was posing to American Jewry by running him. As one Jew who worked in the office of the Naval Secretary in those years put it, "Israel never had any shortage of Jews willing to help her. Why did she have to use Pollard? He wanted to help. Fine. But Israel did not really have to use him."


There is no doubt that the US conspired against Pollard. Anti-Semitism is the only reasonable way to understand: the decision to impose a life sentence upon him for an offense that usually carries a sentence of about 4 years; the exaggeration of the damage done to the US; the gross opposition by the CIA to every attempt to release him; the seven years he spent in solitary confinement in unbearable conditions; and also the conditions he is held in today. It is impossible to deal with the Pollard case without becoming convinced that he is suffering for no other reason than because he is a Jew who spied for the State of Israel.

Worse still, Israel the State in whose service Pollard risked his life has behaved reprehensibly. "After I was arrested, I went through a very difficult time which brought me to the threshold of despair. The FBI investigators who were debriefing me, purposely allowed me to see the statements that the Israelis had made about me. The Mossad cast all the blame on Rafi Eitan (Pollard's handler) and on LAKAM (the Office for Information Cooperation which Eitan headed). They wanted to bury me. It was the Mossad that was the source of all the disinformation about me and my character. The lies that I used cocaine and was a mercenary, selling secrets to countries other than Israel, it all came from them. It was clear that the Mossad had three goals: to bury me; to destroy LAKAM and to protect AIPAC at all costs. To this day, this remains the policy of the Mossad.

In 1995 a Mossad agent came here and suggested that I commit suicide. I told him that I was ready to die for Israel, but not for a bunch of political toadies. "The Israelis claimed that mine was a rogue operation. But this was a total lie. Not only did the senior political and military leadership know what was happening, Ariel Sharon tried to use me for his own ends. Rafi Eitan was Arik's man. And he asked me to collect political intelligence for Sharon what people in Washington were saying about him and the like. I refused. "

Rafi Eitan, Israel's master spy who served as Pollard's chief handler from his position as head of the Office for Information Cooperation at the Israeli Embassy, told him that his information was discussed at cabinet meetings and Pollard understood that his main contractor was then Major General Ehud Barak, who then served as Commander of Military Intelligence.

"Afterwards, Rafi asked me to get them the names of American agents in Israel. I refused. This was something that would have hurt the US, and I wouldn't do it. Rafi told me, 'Watch it! Your refusal to give us the names will end up killing you. These agents will betray you to the authorities in the US.'

"But what hurt me the most was when I saw the unclassified version of the Eban Report. [The Eban Report was a report of the Knesset's sub-committee on intelligence services investigation into the Pollard affair that was published in 1987.] It made me almost physically ill. The report includes a summary of a midnight conversation between [the prime minister] Shimon Peres and [the US Secretary of State George] Schultz about a week after I was arrested. Schultz asked Peres to return the documents I took and Peres agreed but made Schultz promise that the documents wouldn't be used against me and Schultz agreed.

"No one ever told me about this agreement. I could have used it in my defense. It is the country's responsibility. It had standing before the court. Israel is the only country to participate in the prosecution of its own agent."

These days we are hearing that the Israeli Ambassador Danni Ayalon may come to visit Pollard. About a month ago, Ayalon was in North Carolina, in the neighborhood, but refused to come to the prison. Just by way of comparison, the Korean Ambassador made monthly visits to Robert Kim, the Korean agent who was incarcerated in America.

The only Israeli Prime Minister until now, who has ever done anything for Jonathan Pollard, is Bibi Netanyahu. A year ago Sharon refused to give President Bush a petition signed by 112 Members of Knesset, which he himself signed, with a request to release Pollard. (J4JP: to date, the President has never received this historic and unprecedented appeal.) This trip the Prime Minister refused to deliver another historic appeal signed by all of the Chief Rabbis, past and present

Dennis Ross, the former American Special Envoy to the Middle East in the 1990's writes in his book, (THE MISSING PEACE) of a conversation he had with President Clinton about Netanyahu's request to free Pollard parallel to the signing of the Wye Accords (October 1998). Ross says that he advised Clinton, " I would not free him now. It would be a big payoff for Bibi. You do not have many big ones like this in your pocket. I would save it for the final status talks."

Do you think that Clinton's refusal to free you then has priced you out of the market? That there is nothing big enough that Israel can offer for your release?

"No, I believe that the opposite is true. But Israel has to ask, and Sharon refuses to ask. It was chutzpah of the first order for Sharon to define the return of that no-goodnik Tannenbaum as the mitzvah of Pidyan Shvuyim. That was spitting in the face of our religious beliefs."


When you are sitting in your room, what do you think about?

"My dream is to be with my wife, at home in Israel. I am worried about my wife. She is a Cancer survivor. But she refused to have chemotherapy because it would have destroyed any chance of having children. Because of our circumstances, she has not had any Cancer follow up treatments for more than 2 years. Do you have any idea of what it feels like for a husband to have to hear over the phone that his wife has Cancer?

"Last year the government refused to implement my status as a captive (not to grant me the status I have it as an agent but to implement it.) Instead they leaked to the media that Pollard is just after money. And they leaked a story about how they were going to give me a million dollars; they did this in order to destroy public concern for me. [J4JP: Jonathan and his wife Esther have never received a cent from the Israeli Government.

"Look, we are homeless. We have no house. My wife has no medical care. If it were not for the generosity of friends we would have nothing. We lost everything. Esther is here for me, but I am scared to death for her. And I believe that the way that I am being treated symbolizes what is going on in Israel today.

"The image of Joseph Flavius has always fascinated me. He symbolizes what happened to us during the era of the destruction of the second Temple. We are taught that the second Temple was destroyed because of 'sinat chinam', causeless hatred. But I believe that there is another component to it: self-hatred. If, G-d forbid, the 3rd Temple is destroyed it will be because of self-hatred."

As if to illustrate, he opens a letter which he has been holding throughout the interview. It is a letter from the Yered family of Atzmona in Gush Katif. Attached to the letter is a photograph of the 3 Yered children. The youngest, Ariel, was injured at fifteen months of age by a mortar shell which exploded in the family's yard where he was playing.

"The abandonment of a nation, begins with the abandonment of one." He chokes up as he points to the photograph, "How can anyone with a conscience throw these children out of their home? I couldn't do it. Just like I could not turn my back 20 years ago. All the slanderous stories about me have been invented to destroy me because I am useful as a symbol against Jews by those who hate Israel."

"Soldiers write to me. They ask me what I would do in their place if I got an order to evacuate the settlements in Gush Katif. My response to them is: Remember that you are a Jew!"

The time allotted for the interview is coming to an end. An officer approaches and says it is time to conclude.

Jonathan, they say you have a phenomenal memory. Does this mean that you still represent a danger to the US if you are released?

"There is no security risk for America regarding my release. Nothing I know and certainly nothing I would ever do would be antithetical to US interests. My life has been destroyed; the goal of deterrence has been achieved."

It is possible that senior Israeli officials fear that you will embarrass them if you are released.

"It is only possible to embarrass someone who has a sense of honor or self respect. The Israelis who have done me harm have no honor.

"In any case, no Israelis will be hurt by my release. The bottom line is: I want to come home so that I can be with my wife, my People and my Land. That is all I want. Unfortunately that apparently scares some people

"On the other hand, there is something I would like to point out. When the Chief Rabbi of the IDF Brigadier General Yisrael Weiss recently wrote an official prayer for me /040705a.htm and distributed it to all units of the armed forces, it touched my heart very deeply. It shows that we are still The People of The Book.

"I love my Nation."

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Former CIA Chief Woolsey: Time To Consider Commutation for Pollard

James Woolsey, former head of the CIA, said in an interview with Makor Rishon that this is the right time to consider commuting Jonathan Pollard's sentence. We are fighting together on the same front in the war against terror, he said, and this is the time to pay attention to and show consideration for the sensitivities of the citizens of friendly democratic nations.

"Pollard," Woolsey explains, "may not have been a prime candidate for commutation, but 20 years is a very long time. At a certain point, it is time to ask if enough is enough and that is in regard to his release, not to diminishing the seriousness of his actions. There is an obligation to have a different approach to spies for friendly countries." Woolsey stresses that his words should not be construed as a recommendation for clemency, and says that when clemency requests are weighed it must be ascertained that deterrence has been achieved.

Woolsey began as CIA Chief in 1993. "I studied the Pollard file closely. My estimation at the time was that Pollard was not even close to being ready to be considered for commutation. At that time he had served a relatively short period of time in prison for a serious espionage case. Since then, he has served another 12 years. He has now been in prison for 20 years."

Claims that the information Pollard gave Israel were leaked to other countries such as China or the Soviet Union, are not true, said Woolsey. He explains that in his view "the heart of the matter" was the US fear that Israel's own intelligence apparatus would be penetrated by hostile governments and that as a result the materials Pollard transferred would be picked up. "As for the quality of the information, in my opinion, at the time (1993) the material was broad-ranging and included information that did not relate solely to Israel's immediate security needs. Part of it, if it had found its way into the hands of a hostile country would have presented a danger to the US ability to collect intelligence. No intelligence apparatus is immune to penetration, not even Israel's. If there had been some way to assure that only the two top Israeli officials would see the information, probably the US would not have been so concerned. At the time there was a great deal of espionage activity all over the place. And the heart of the matter was the fear that the material he gave Israel could end up in the hands of a third country. This could have hurt the US ability to gather information."

The Secretary of Defense during the Pollard case, Caspar Weinberger, was the driving force behind Pollard's life sentence. Pollard signed a plea agreement and cooperated with his interrogators in return for a lighter sentence but Weinberger, as it was reported in the media, claimed in a secret memo to the judge, that Pollard had done great and irreversible damage to the national security of the United States, and even caused the deaths of American agents.

The damage assessment in the Pollard case was carried out by Aldrich Ames, who at the time was a CIA bureau chief. Ames, who himself was exposed in 1994, was a Soviet spy. According to Angelo Codevilla who, at the time, was an advisor to the Senate Defense and Intelligence Committee, Ames cast the blame on Pollard for much of the damageAmes himself had done to US national security and to its agents in the Soviet Union. After the arrest of Ames, Senator Dennis Deconcini, the head of the Defense and Intelligence Committee wrote a letter indicating that was removing his objection to commutation of Jonathan Pollard's sentence. Weinberger himself admitted, in an interview in 2002 on the occasion of the printing of his memoirs, that the Pollard case was a "relatively minor matter" and that "it was made much bigger than its actual importance."

It appears that the disagreement in the United States surrounding Pollard's release revolves around two main arguments. The first argument: given that we now know that any damage caused by Pollard was insignificant, should he be freed in order to correct the injustice, or is it better to retain him as a bargaining chip. As Dennis Ross suggested to President Clinton during the negotiations at the Wye Summit in 1998, Pollard can be used to squeeze additional concessions from Israel for the Palestinians.

The second argument: will the release of Pollard signal to the American Jews that is okay to spy for Israel, or has 20 years in prison been enough to achieve the goal of deterrence.

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Part III:
Commentary: The Search for Agent X

Jonathan Pollard, the American Jewish Community, the American Establishment, and the State of Israel. Why does the name of the Israeli agent languishing in an American prison evoke such animosity in Washington Jews? On the eve of Passover, the Secret Service is looking for spies with Jewish names.

Very few names cause the kind of visceral reaction by Washington Jews that the name Jonathan Pollard does. "Why are you even bothering with that scoundrel? Don't you know what he did to us here! I hope he rots in prison." These are the kind of reactions that one hears from Washington Jews.

Last summer, the name of a Washington analyst, Larry Franklin, was in the news headlines. Franklin is a Catholic supporter of Israel who believes in a strategic common fate shared by Israel and the United States. Last summer it was reported that Franklin gave classified information about US policy on Iran to the pro-Israeli lobby group AIPAC, and that he did this as the emissary of " real spies" in the Pentagon and in the Bush Administration itself Jewish neo-conservatives. At once the names of all the Jews holding top positions in the Defense Department appeared in a list in the Washington Post, in a report written, in fact, by the journalist responsible for reporting on the affairs of the Department of State. Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Harold Rood, Richard Perl, Scooter Libby all were suddenly under suspicion of betraying the US. Not a single name of a non-Jew was mentioned. The entire affair appears to have been contrived. The "information" that Franklin was supposed to have given to AIPAC had previously been published in the Washington Post, and did not at all represent American official policy towards Iran, but just a possible approach which had been brought up at a discussion which took place regarding American policy on Iran. Since the accusations were first made, nearly a year has passed and there has not been a single indictment. But, in the process, all the Jews who work for the Administration were investigated and humiliated, and along with them a considerable number of Jews who have no connection to the Administration as well.


The Jews themselves say that the name Pollard is always in the air. According to some of them, the FBI is still searching for Agent X the mythologicalhighly-placed American for whom Pollard is supposed to have worked. Twenty years have gone by since Pollard's arrest and the FBI is still trying any way it can to prove that there was another Jew involved in the episode.

The publicized investigation of Franklin, as well as the publicized attacks against the "neo- conservatives" which began in the months before the American invasion of Iraq two years ago, still continue to this day. According to critics of the Administration, right, left and center, Washington has been taken over by a clique of "Zionist neo- conservatives" which is promoting a foreign policy that enslaves simple Americans to the murky interests of Israel. The names of individuals which are mentioned are always those of Jews.

All that is needed to reveal the depth of the insult, the anger and the demoralization of the Jews in Washington, is to bring up the name Pollard. "He is the reason they suspect us to this day," they say. The Pollard problem has become a gaping abyss dividing American Jews and Israel. It is true, as they say, that perhaps the Israeli public is sympathetic to him, but for us he is a scoundrel. It is not just that he betrayed the US, they say; first and foremost, he betrayed American Jews; and by running him Israel betrayed us as well.

There is no doubt that Pollard hurt the reputation and the good name of American Jews, nevertheless, it is frankly worth asking, how it is that his influence is still so strongly felt after 20 years. There are 3 players who are responsible for why the Pollard affair still continues to affect the situation of all American Jews so deeply, as well as the relations between the US and Israel. They are: the American Intelligence community; the leaders of the American Jewish community; and the State of Israel.


Pollard has become an effective tool in the hands of the Intelligence community in the US. It is not just that he stole classified information and transferred it to a foreign country; he stole the information and he gave it to Israel. Anti-Semites like the former Secretary of Defense in those days, Caspar Weinberger, and the former deputy head of the CIA, Bobby Ray Inman, recognized in Pollard an opportunity to weaken the influence of the Jews in America. The Jews at the time were strongly opposed to the limits which were imposed on Israel after the destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor; and they were similarly vociferously opposed to the sale of upgraded weapons systems to the Arabs, such as the sale of AWACS fighter planes to Saudi Arabia. Israel-haters in the American Administration reckoned that if American Jews had to worry that they were sounding unfaithful to America every time they opened their mouths on behalf of Israel, then they might be less zealous in their defense of Israel. These same officials in the American Intelligence and security establishment working against Jews, did what every anti-Semite has always wanted to do to us since time immemorial: they decided to define for us what it means to be a Jew.

The trouble is, the American Jews allowed them to do so. Ever since the arrest of Pollard, the American Jewish establishment has accepted the unusual treatment he has been subjected to by the American Justice system without complaint. Pollard spent seven years in solitary confinement with barely a word of complaint by American Jewish leaders. The witch-hunt against Jews that has been on-going ever since, has been met with weak and half-hearted protest by the Jewish establishment. Even though the Jews marched shoulder to shoulder with Black American human rights activists in the 1960's, when it came to crying out against discrimination for "one of our own", the American Jewish leadership was utterly impotent.

If American Jewry in 1986, or even today, were united in protest against the life sentence imposed upon Pollard and against the witch-hunt of Jews in Washington, as if the deeds of one were indicative of all, then the Justice Department and the Intelligence community would be forced to curtail open season on all Jews. In other words, if the American Jewish establishment were more willing to defend itself American Jews would be under attack far less.

This is where we come to Israel. As much as they make noises about being independent leaders, the Jewish leadership in America gets both its courage and its signal to act, in no small measure, from Israel. In the 1990's, for example, Israeli leaders such as Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin instructed American Jewish leaders to change gears and to work for "peace", instead of for Israel. That is how it came about that almost all of the large Jewish organizations began to lobby Congress to give money to the PLO, and supported the CIA training Palestinian terrorists. In general, those leaders and Jewish activists repulsed by these policies, who asked emphatically to continue to support Israel, were fired for not showing more enthusiasm for the new policies. So it happened when the war for peace broke out in September 2000, it took a long time for the American Jewish Community to recover from the joy of lobbying for the PLO, and to return to defending itself and Israel.

In the case of Pollard, Israel abandoned her agent because her leaders reckoned that the abandonment would facilitate the repair of relations with the Americans. But that is not what occurred; the abandonment merely strengthened anti-Israel forces in Washington. When Israel failed to defend her agent and her interests, she was weakened. The Americans realized that Israel had no honor and that it was possible to pressure her and humiliate her. Instead of demanding an end to this treatment, Israel agreed to the humiliation. What this means is simple: defending Pollard, no matter how difficult it may seem is, in effect, self defense. And when Israel fails to defend herself, she is weakened, and all who are identified with her, are weakened as well.


By abandoning Pollard, Israel has demonstrated that at least on one thing she has worked with consistency for the last 20 years. Pollard, the South Lebanese Army collaborators, the Palestinian collaborators and the settlers in Gaza and the northern Shomron who are under fire and living in constant threat of terror, day in day out, merely for trying to help the nation of Israel to hold on to the Land all have received the same treatment: betrayal by the State. The State betrays her friends, and shows preference instead to Hezbullah, to the PLO and to the anti-Semites in the US Intelligence community, and the anti-Israel activists of Gush Shalom and the rest of the pro-Palestinian movements.

The holiday of Passover is the Holiday of Freedom. In order to earn its freedom, a nation must be responsible for its actions. That includes showing good faith to friends, especially in difficult circumstances. In order to do this, a nation must adopt a model of honorable behavior. Without honor there can be no responsibility; and without responsibility there is no freedom. Achieving freedom is not a one-time event; it is an on-going struggle which lasts forever. The fact that it is a lasting and on-going exercise means that it is it never too late to begin. Israel, as the State of the Jewish People, is responsible to all Jews for as long as he is there. Pollard may be an Israeli hero, or not. But he is certainly an Israeli agent who fell victim to terrible discrimination, and it is up to Israel to secure his release not just for his sake but for ours.

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